|A health worker in Hà Nội holds up a vial of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. — VNA/VNS Photo|
HÀ NỘI — The Vietnamese health ministry's vaccine advisory body has just announced that mRNA COVID-19 vaccines manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna can be used interchangeably as first and second doses, amid supply shortage.
Localities are supposed to set plans/reserve second doses as more Moderna supplies are currently not available, but in the push for a larger uptake of the first dose of vaccine in many COVID-19 hot spots, including HCM City, health authorities have decided to use up all the vaccines they are allocated.
Since the beginning of the week, many people in HCM City who are scheduled to receive their second Moderna shot have been offered another mRNA vaccine – Pfizer – as an alternative, but the administration of the shots still requires consent.
The only source of Moderna Việt Nam has at the moment is five million doses as a donation from the US Government via COVAX Facility. HCM City and the health ministry have spoken of a purchase deal for 5 million doses of Moderna through its distribution partner in Southeast Asia Zuellig Pharma, but an agreement has not been finalised with the mother company.
Pfizer is expected to be more available as Việt Nam has signed an agreement for 51 million doses with the US company, to be fulfilled within this year, but the delivery to the country will concentrate mostly in the final quarter.
Việt Nam has received various types of COVID-19 vaccines for use in its national inoculation drive, including viral vector vaccines (AstraZeneca/Oxford and Sputnik V), mRNA technology vaccines (Pfizer/BioNTech), and inactivated vaccine (Sinopharm’s Vero Cell).
The health ministry still recommends that the first and second doses should be the same, but mixing and matching of vaccines has been implemented by many countries and showed positive results without any concerning complications reported.
The vaccine council body under the health ministry also said that those who have received AstraZeneca as the first jab could get either Pfizer and Moderna shots as the second (previously it only allowed Pfizer).
Local health authorities and vaccination sites are supposed to treat people who receive two different types of COVID-19 vaccines as special cases and submit a separate report to the health ministry for monitoring.
771,937 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered on Tuesday, bringing the country's total doses to nearly 23.6 million. Nearly 3.8 million people have been fully vaccinated.
The country has received about 33 million doses of vaccines so far. — VNS